Geoffrey Chaucer, born about 1340, was the first great English poet. The immense popularity of the Canterbury Tales is shown by the number of manuscript copies still in existence. It was one of the first books printed in England. The vividness with which the author describes scenes and events and people, as if he had them before his eyes, is one of his greatest charms as a writer. Those who know him best place him second only to Shakespeare as a writer of delightful English. The spelling of Chaucer's time differs so much from ours that the difficulty of reading it discourages a great many people. The few stories here given are retold in the language of to-day: The Old Woman and the Knight; Death and the Three Revellers; Patient Griselda.